2001 Delheim Vera Cruz Estate Stellenbosch Shiraz

I think that I bought this one last Christmas time in Wyoming of all places. It was wrapped in a very attractive tissue paper thus assuring that I wouldn’t feel bad paying for it.

Appearance – very dark purple, I figure that there is no way that a wine that looks like this can be anything but outstanding.

Nose – intensely sweet blackberry, a ton of smoke and a little black pepper.

In the mouth – a lot of oak, probably American oak, but not as intense as most wines stored in American oak. This wine probably needs another 5 to 10 years on the shelf, but looking at the cork, I’m not sure it would last that long. The stains on the cork were between 1/3 and 1/2 the length. It might make it another 5 years. I’m not sure that I want to push it that long though.

Anyway, the flavors include tobacco, blackberry, cigar box, dark chocolate and a little black pepper.

The finish is nice and smooth but not as powerful as I had hoped. Don’t get me wrong on that last comment; it does not wimp out on the finish.

I think I paid $40 for this one. If you can get it for $35 or less, it is a bargain. If it costs $45 or more, skip it.

2004 Kaesler Avignon

So I haven’t had a GSM in a while. This one is 50% Grenache, 30% Shiraz and 20% Mourvedre.

It is quite interesting as it has the typical earthy/musty finish of a French Rhone blend, but it also has that HUGE fruit-spice bomb of a Barossa Valley Shiraz.

First off, it is very dark purple – a good sign in my book!

The aroma is very hot with dark berries with a subtle hint of cedar.

In the mouth, it is powerful. There is a lot of dark fruit and a nice bit of spice.

The finish keeps building and building long after you swallow it. There is a little leather and a bit of cigar box to wake you up and say “what was that?”

Time for a cheap one…

Had been getting used to having to spend at least $12 for a ‘daily’ bottle, but recently found one at half that price that is drinkable. Available at Trader Joe’s only (that I’ve seen) it is:
Feudo Zirtari, 2003, Indicazione Geografica Tipica Rosso, from Sicilia Italy. The trademark symbol on the label is a red triangle laying on its side, which is where I generally wind up after drinking a bottle.

I’d like to say it is great, but it’s not – but what it IS, is a very dry, very drinkable red with a fairly strong black cherry flavor, both on the nose and the tounge, for a very reasonable price.

I’m working on the second case, and will buy a third this week, if that tells you anything. It is really worth a try if you are near a Trader Joe’s and looking for a red that won’t offend you. If you like black cherry, you might just say it is worth 3 times its selling price.

John Friederich

2004 Penny’s Hill Red Dot Shiraz

This Shiraz is worthy (for the price)!

I paid about $16 for it. It was recommended by the wine shop clerk, who shares my likes and dislikes in wine. When I come in, he will greet me with news of any new arrivals that I might like. He was correct with this one.

I believe this is the second brand of wine that I’ve tried which used the “Zork” closure. I love corks and I hate screw-tops, but I think that for young wines meant to be consumed in a short time period from bottling – the Zork is great. They have a nice web site to explain it at http://www.zork.com.au/

It is a nice dark purple, the aroma is hot with a bit of licorice and cigar box behind blackberries. It has a nice taste curve, fruity at the beginning, peppery in the middle and finish. There is a lot of blackberry with a bit of tar.

This could just be my new pizza wine.

2003 Weingut Schuberth Gruener Veltliner Riede Spiegel

This is a great wine from Austria in the $18 to $20 price range.

In my tasting notes, I wrote “Get some!”

This is very good. It is huge for a white wine. There is a nice spiciness, which I love in white wine. I’m not sure of the fruit that I tasted, perhaps a touch of pear or honeydew melon. It has a crisp, spicy finish.

My thoughts while tasting this is that it would be great with oysters on the half-shell. I didn’t have any handy, but if I get the opportunity to ever try it I will do so.

2004 Mitolo G.A.M. McLaren Vale Shiraz

This wine has a beautiful dark purple color. It is bright and very young in appearance. The aromas are leather, intense blackberry and ripe dark fruit. The flavors are intense and peppery with lots of dark fruit. The taste curve is nicely balanced and finishes up with a nice hint of leather.

If I was stuck somewhere with only this wine to drink, I wouldn’t complain. I have to figure out where I can acquire some more…

2003 The Lucky Country Barossa Valley

This is a blend of 55% Shiraz and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia. It claims that the alcohol content is 14.5%. I’m not quite buying that as I drank the whole bottle and barely felt it. But this is a decent wine, although I thought it would go well with a nice broiled steak, I say don’t bother, as the wine and steak didn’t complement each other as well as I thought they would. Now if I could just find some chocolate, I think that would do okay.

This has a decent appearance, though not as dark as some American blends. The Aroma has a nice dark cherry aroma but after that, not much else. Some suggest raspberry – okay if you insist, although I think it is closer to dark cherry.

The flavor is nice dark fruit, a bit of peppery spice, perhaps a touch of clove and blueberry. This is very nice, as I said; I drank the whole bottle in one setting. Reason enough in my mind to give it a second chance. I think rather than beef, that I might want to try it with barbequed chicken or perhaps even a spicy dish such as tacos or enchiladas.

If you can find it, pick up a couple of bottles. You’ll not regret it.

2004 Garretson Grenache Paso Robles “The Spainnéach”

The color is a very nice dark purple, with nice legs indicating a high alcohol content. It says 16.2% on the label.

At first whiff, I smell only yeast. I think that comes from the screw top, as I’ve noticed that in the last few screw top wines that I’ve tasted right after opening them up.

I let it sit in the glass for a few minutes, and then I smelled intense and ripe dark fruit.

The flavor is a tart but also ripe. I taste blackberry, blueberry and a little strawberry. The taste curve is nicely balanced, especially the finish. There is a nice spiciness from the alcohol, which I also like. I think that the tartness indicates that I opened this one a couple of years before it was intended. That’s okay with me, because this is quite nice as it is.

2003 Hentley Farm Barossa Valley Shiraz

$22 and a screw cap warning!

I guess I better write something about this one before it is gone.

It is very dark purple and looks nice!

Smells like ripe dark fruit. They say “with plum pudding aromas” like we’d know what the heck they are talking about. Come on guys, I’m not sure that I would ever want to even think about tasting something called plum pudding. I’ll stick to banana, chocolate, vanilla and butterscotch pudding thank you very much.

Okay, so I’m not quite sure which dark fruit I smell. I don’t think it is dark cherry, perhaps a jammy blackberry and I want to say that it has a touch of gardenia in there, but that is very subtle.

It is very smooth in the mouth, almost elegant. It might store for a bit, but I don’t know that it would improve. Let’s just say drink it as soon as you get it home along with your favorite pizza, pork loin or southwestern meal.

It tastes great and I’d buy it again.

2002 Paulo Cabernet Sauvignon

OK, so this was a pleasant surprise… On the label, this is subtitled a “Father and Son Cuvee” from Messina Hof Cellars in (are you ready for this?) — Texas. Checking their site, I discovered this one is a blend of 90% Cab and 10% Merlot and a limited production of only 2,688 bottles.

Not what I would call a great Cab, definitely not a big, bold, full bodied monster… but not bad at all. On a 20 point scale I would rate this around 15-16. Has an aromatic nose; lots of dark fruit with a hint of vanilla. The fruit follows on thru the pallate with a hint of red apple or tart plum. I got this along with some questionable bottles and honestly didn’t know what to expect; as stated earlier… a pleasant surprise.

Marietta Cellars Old Vine Red Lot Number Thirty-seven

Still the best $10 that you can spend on a bottle of wine!

I made an entry about lot number 34 last year. I like lot 37 too. It is quite a bit different than the previous versions that I’ve tasted.

This one has a lot of stuff that I like: beautiful dark purple color, dark fruit aroma, spicy-heat, earthy and well-balanced flavors, and a nice smooth finish which comes with a little heat of its own.

I don’t know exactly which grapes are in the blend, but most of the previous blends were Zinfandel, Carignane and Petite Sirah. This time they say there is a bit of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon in there.

This is like a Rhone blend on steroids.

2003 Forefathers McLaren Vale Shiraz

It has a nice dark purple color. There are aromas of dark chocolate, dark fruit such as blackberry, heavy alcohol and perhaps a touch of licorice. In the mouth, it is slightly acidic, there is a lot of fruit, but it is hard to distinguish which. I think that there is a bit of dark cherry or blackberry. There is a bit of heat on the finish from the alcohol. Overall it is a decent wine. I think it will hold until about 2007. Price was about $24.

Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vertical Tasting

Who would be so crazy as to pass up the opportunity to sample these great wines at one sitting? Well not me!

Last night, a group of us got together to taste the following:

2000 and 1998 Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape

1989 Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée des Cadettes

As a group, we were most impressed with the 1998 version, followed by the 1989 and then the 2000. At first we did not feel that the 2000 was anywhere near the quality of the other two, but after sitting open for about an hour, it really opened up and smoothed out. It is indeed worthy.

Here are the comments from the group on each of the wines:

2000 Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Light purple in color, a slight barnyard aroma at first but that burns off after a bit. There is a touch of eucalyptus. After sitting, this turns vegetative with a touch of bell pepper. The flavors are hot, earthy, mushroom, plum with a eucalyptus aftertaste. It has a spicy finish. We were trying to find a way to describe an almost clove flavor, but couldn’t come up with a better word. There is some pomegranate or perhaps current flavor there also.

The above description fit the wine after it set for a half an hour. But after sitting open for an hour, it really changed for the better. Our notes state that it becomes much smoother after opening up. The aroma contains raspberry and dark fruit. The flavors include cherry and black pepper. The finish has nice pepper and is now very elegant.

1998 Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape
A bit deeper in color than the 2000. At first there is a pleasant yeasty aroma which turns to strawberry with a touch of wintergreen. In the mouth, it is very nice, very smooth. There an almost maple syrup or brown sugar sweetness which caries through the velvety, elegant finish.

1989 Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée des Cadettes
Darker purple than the 1998, starting to show its age just a bit. The aroma is earthy, creamy mocha and black pepper. We tasted black pepper with a distant hint of blueberry. The finish is beautiful. This wine is ready to drink now.

Lake Breeze Langhorne Creek Bernoota, 1999

50% Shiraz, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon. This was purchased on eBay (I’ve had good luck with these recently) as a ‘6-pack’ . Opened one without a rest, and WOW! I think you have to have a hankering for a wine in this somewhat extreme style (I do.) This is an Aussie wine, by the way

The nose is full of big, dark, fruits with a hint of smokey cedar. First taste is of blackberry, again very intense and ominous. Slightly hot and acidic , but then mellows slightly to a simply large longlasting berry (black, with some current.)

If you are in a mood for a huge, ominous bottle, I highly recommend this. Approx $15 per/ bottle. I’ve not seen these locally, but worth a check.

2002 Oakley fiveREDS

My experience with Cline Cellars has not been on the positive side. So, when we opened this one last evening at a family get together, I really wasn’t expecting a lot. Well, this one was a great surprise!

As the name implies, this one is a blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignane, and Grenache. If you are saying to yourself that it sounds very Rhone-style, you are correct. At a price point of $8, this one will blow you away. All the typical Rhone descriptors are there; dark fruit, leather, tobacco, and vegetables. From nose to finish, this one is amazing…. absolutely worth a re-purchase.

2000 Stags’ Leap Napa Valley Petite Syrah

When I poured this one, I could tell just by looking at it that it was going to be a great wine. It is a very clear, but dark purple in color.

The initial aroma has a touch of blueberry, which burns off to reveal a touch of earthiness, and leather under the fruit, which also includes dark cherry and black current.

In the mouth, it has a nice smooth texture; dark fruit is complemented quite nicely with black pepper. I think this will pair nicely with Mexican food.

The pepper builds on the finish, reaching a peak then falling off quite elegantly.